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"I do not expect the white media to create a positive black-male image." -
Huey P. Newton
The NorthStar News & Analysis -
September 20, 2009
U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn
Obama's Budget Cap On Healthcare Reform Legislation Might Mean Cutting Crucial Programs, House Leader Says
President Barack Obama's promise to Congress and the American people that his proposed health care reform legislation will not cost more than $900 billion over 10 years means Congress will have to cut some important preventive health care programs before the president signs the legislation into law, said U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn, the House of Representatives Majority Whip.
"Originally the proposed legislation was for $1.5 trillion over 10 years, but President Obama wanted the legislation under $1 trillion so it would have a better chance to pass Congress," said Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat. "Congress had been working on a bill with a $998 billion budget, but with the president's new budget goal we must cut $98 billion from the bill."
Cutting $98 billion from the proposed legislation could mean eliminating community health centers, which would play a key role in preventive health care, eliminating scholarships for students to attend medical school to become general practitioners, which will be needed under healthcare reform because more individuals will have health insurance.
Clyburn made his comments Thursday at a news conference sponsored by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies that was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The Joint Center webcast the event.
The Joint Center, a Washington D.C.-based think tank for black-elected officials, held the news conference to discuss its study titled, "The Economic Burden Of Health Inequalities In the United States."
The Joint Center issued its report several weeks after the president addressed the nation regarding the need for health care reform.
President Obama told a joint session of Congress and the American people Sept. 9 that he wanted to keep the cost of health care reform around $900 billion because it would not add to the nation's deficit.
"The middle class will realize greater security, not higher taxes," the president said. "And if we are able to slow the growth of health care costs by just one-tenth of 1 percent--one-tenth of 1 percent--it will actually reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the long term."
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who addressed the Joint Center conference after Clyburn, said the president's budget cap means Congress is working under "serious restraints."
Rush, an Illinois Democrat and chairman of the subcommittee on the Energy and Commerce, said the proposed healthcare reform legislation will not address large segments of the population, including inmates who have been released from prison. "Former prisoners are returning to our communities with serious health problems because they did not receive adequate health care in prison," he says.
Rush warned supporters of healthcare reform not to get their hopes up too high once the legislation becomes law.
"We should celebrate the moment and prepare for the future and be willing to fight another 61 years for universal health care," Rush said in reference to President Harry Truman, who first proposed universal health care.
Clyburn made it clear he wanted the healthcare reform legislation to be transformative, and if it isn't, he would be very disappointed.
Health care reform legislation must be accessible, affordable and accountable, he said. "If it is not accessible, affordable and accountable then we will have passed legislation in a pretty package but nothing has changed," Clyburn says.
Estimated Direct And Indirect Medical Costs For Those Without Health Insurance Is $1.24 Trillion, Study Says
Source: Joint Center For Political And Economic Studies
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank for black-elected officials, offered President Barack Obama a new argument to strengthen his push for healthcare reform legislation.
If non whites--African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics--had adequate health insurance and access to health care facilities, it would lead to improvements in the nation's physical and possibly the country's fiscal health, the Joint Center concludes in a report titled "The Economic Burden of Health Inequalities In the United States."
The study found that the lack of affordable health insurance and the lack of access to health care facilities for nonwhites cost an estimated $229.4 billion in direct medical costs between 2003 and 2006, with African-Americans, who are most likely not to have health insurance or access to medical treatment facilities, accounting for 59% of the estimated medical costs.
The Joint Center defined direct medical costs as care to a sicker and more disadvantaged population, including treatment in hospital emergency rooms and calling ambulances to rush ill patients to hospitals. The study reported that estimated direct medical costs attributed to African Americans during the four-year period was $135.9 billion compared with $82 billion for Hispanics and $11.4 billion for Asians.
The report also concluded that estimated indirect medical costs during the four-year period among African Americans, Asians and Hispanics was $1.007.9 trillion and by adding direct and indirect medical costs together, the tab from 2003 to 2006 balloons to more than $1.24 trillion. The Joint Center defined indirect medical costs as lost productivity, lost wages, absenteeism, family leave and premature death. Blacks bore the highest indirect medical costs of $728 billion over the four-year period compared with Hispanics who accounted for $225 billion and Asians accounted for less than a billion. From 2003 to 2006, indirect medical costs caused by premature death attributed to blacks was estimated at $746.2 billion compared with $211.3 billion for Hispanics and zero for Asias, the study concludes.
"What we found was striking," Ralph B. Everett, president and CEO of the Joint Center, said in a statement. "More than 30 percent of direct medical costs faced by African Americans, Hispanic and Asian Americans were excess costs due to inequalities." The Joint Center released the report Thursday at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The Joint Center also broadcast the news conference over the worldwide web.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who spoke at the news conference, referred attendees to the government's website, citing health disparities,www.Healthreform.gov.
The website reported that black adults suffered from 48% of chronic diseases, such as obesity, cancer, diabetes and AIDs compared with the 39% of the general population.
Even for blacks who see a doctor, there is some times a disconnect between what physicians prescribe or recommend and is what readily available in black neighborhoods.
Dennis P. Andrulis, associate dean for research at Drexel University's School of Public Health and one of the report's researchers, said a physician may instruct an obese patient to eat more fruits and vegetables and to increase the amount of exercise, but the patient may live in a neighborhood populated with McDonald's and Taco Bell fast-food restaurants, but not one supermarket. The patient also may be afraid to take walks for exercise in his or her neighborhood because of the area's high crime rate, Andrulis said.
To reach its conclusions, the Joint Center commissioned researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland to learn how much of a financial burden racial disparities put on the health care system and society at large. The panel of experts used data from a Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from 2002 to 2006 to estimate the potential cost savings by eliminating health disparities for non whites. The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey is a survey of health- insurance recipients and their health-insurance providers.
Gov. David Paterson
New York Governor Says He Plans To Stay In The Race Despite Pressure To Withdraw
New York Gov. David Paterson, one of the nation's two black governors, says he will not scrap plans to run for a full term despite pressure from the White House and Democratic politicians throughout the state to drop out of the race.
"My plans for 2010 are to run for governor of the state of N.Y.," Paterson said Sunday after serving as grand marshal to the African-American Day Parade in New York City. "I am running for office."
Paterson made his comments as he faced mounting pressure from the White House and local Democratic Party leaders to withdraw from the governor's race because of low poll numbers. Democrats fear that Republicans would sweep a state-wide ticket led by Paterson.
Last week, a Marist College poll found that 20 percent of New York voters approved Paterson's performance as governor compared with 21 percent in June. Only 24 percent of Democrats felt he was doing well. Seventy percent of voters said Paterson isn't a viable candidate for 2010, including 65 percent of Democrats.
Party leaders reportedly want Paterson to step aside for New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to enter the race for governor.
Cuomo has high poll numbers. Cuomo has a 69 percent job-approval rating, and 75 percent of New Yorkers felt he should run for governor, including 77 percent of Democrats.
Paterson was New York's lieutenant governor when he inherited the governor's office in March 2008 from Eliot Spitzer, who resigned after being named in a prostitution scandal.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is the nation's only other black governor.
Suspended Hofstra University Student May Face Charges For Filing False Rape Claim
The Nassau, N.Y., County District Attorney may file criminal charges against a Hofstra University freshman who claimed that five black men gang raped her in a dormitory bathroom, but later recanted her story.
The student could face charges of making false statements to the police, the district attorney's office said.
Hofstra officials suspended the student from school, pending a disciplinary hearing. School officials refused to name the 18-year-old student, but other sources identified her as Danmeil Ndonye.
The student told police that the men tied her up in a dormitory bathroom and took turns sexaully assualting her. Police arrested four of the men, including one who is a Hofstra student. The police were seeking a fifth man who fled prior to the arrests.
As the investigation progressed, police obtained a video of the woman consenting to the sexual romp. She then admitted that the sexual encounters were consensual and that she made up the story because she was afraid to tell her boy friend she engaged in sex with someone other than him.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice asked a judge to release the men from the Nassau County Jail.
Hofstra is a private university with 12,600 students located on Long Island, N.Y.
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